Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Blog Public Health Crisis Letter to EPA and HHS

EPAPublic Health Crisis Letter to EPA and HHS

154 groups urge feds to act on post-BP disaster health crisis

By Sue Sturgis

A coalition of 154 organizations sent a letter yesterday to the heads of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services, asking them to take immediate action to address the public health crisis on the Gulf Coast triggered by last year’s BP oil spill.
The groups that are part of the coalition include public health, environmental and fisher advocates from across the United States, as well as faith-based organizations.

“We believe action must be taken immediately to help the people of the Gulf coast who are currently suffering health impacts and those who will become ill because of the continuing impacts of the BP oil disaster,” the letter stated.

The groups are asking EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to create a Gulf Coast Health Restoration Task Force including members of the affected communities.

They are also calling for implementing the national oil spill commission’s health recommendations. Noting that current law lacks the ability to address health hazards from oil spills, the commission’s final report called for long-term tracking of responders’ health and community health in affected areas. But it also said that such research “cannot overshadow the need to provide immediate medical assistance to affected communities.”

In addition, the letter called on the agencies to publish data sheets on health effects from mixing oil and chemical dispersants as well as any other products used in response to the spill, and to comprehensively restore the region’s health, economy and environment.

As Facing South reported in “Poisoned in the Gulf,” our recent week-long investigative series on the post-BP spill health crisis, there are widespread accounts from throughout the region of health problems linked to the disaster, which resulted in the release of some 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf as well as the spraying of almost 2 million gallons of chemical dispersants, both of which are known to damage human health.

Among the symptoms being reported by oil cleanup workers and residents of coastal communities are respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders, vision and memory problems, skin conditions, and bleeding from the rectum and ears.

“This was an unprecedented environmental disaster with never-before-seen quantities of toxic crude oil and dispersants released into our Gulf environments,” said Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper Paul Orr. “It is unfathomable that the government has not yet acted to help those that have become ill.”

source: ISS – 154 groups urge feds to act on post-BP disaster health crisis

THE LETTER

Letter to Administrator Jackson and Secretary Sebelius
Tue, 2011-05-24 13:16 | by Waterkeeper Alliance
Lisa Jackson
Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
Chair, Eco-System Restoration Task Force
United States Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20460

Kathleen Sebelius
Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201

May 24, 2011

Dear Administrator Jackson and Secretary Sebelius,

The below signed organizations would like to express our concern about the growing health crisis on the Gulf coast. We believe action must be taken immediately to help the people of the Gulf coast who are currently suffering health impacts and those who will become ill because of the continuing impacts of the BP oil disaster. Specifically, we are writing to ask for the creation of a Task Force for health restoration to find and implement appropriate solutions to the growing health crisis on the Gulf coast.  

We are asking you for:

•    Comprehensive restoration. Our health, economy, and environment are interconnected and solutions must reflect this.

•    A Gulf Coast Health Restoration Task Force that includes community members with decision-making authority to address our long and short-term health needs.

•    The implementation of the Oil Spill Commission Report Recommendations on health. The Oil Spill Commission stated that EPA should develop distinct plans and procedures to address human health impacts during a Spill of National Significance (See pages 38-39).

•    The publication of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) type documents containing lists of potential synergistic health effects of exposure to the combination of oil, dispersants, oil and dispersants combined, any natural and/or bioengineered bacteria, and any other chemical or “natural” product used in response to the BP spill.     

As you know, between April 20 and July 15, 2010, it is estimated that 1.84 million gallons of Corexit 9500 and 9527 was applied to BP crude oil—1.07 million were applied to the surface of the Gulf of Mexico and 771,000 gallons were applied subsurface to the wellhead. For every 93 gallons of oil discharged, one gallon of dispersant was applied. The amounts of crude oil discharged and toxic dispersants released are unprecedented and it was people of the Gulf coast who were the first responders to the BP oil disaster and continue to live in the most heavily impacted areas.

There is no understanding of what this toxic cocktail has done and will continue to do to the health of those living on the Gulf coast. Though the oil discharged for 87 days, communities are still reporting continued dispersant spraying, watching oil continue to wash up on our shores, and seeing devastating impacts on our marine life. One year after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the people of the Gulf coast are still in need of proper diagnosis, treatment, and medical monitoring.

Currently, there is no government forum for those that are suffering from and concerned about the short and long term health impacts to share their stories and solutions, and from which to expect guidance and action. These concerns are therefore being expressed at other government-sponsored meetings, from the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force to NOAA’s NRDA commenting session, and all the formal and informal listening sessions in between that are taking place across the Gulf coast. We cannot adequately move forward on these important ecosystem recovery and restoration issues while the health of our people is not being adequately addressed.

Making our communities whole again includes helping every man, woman, and child who has become and will become sick as a result of the BP Oil disaster. Restoring our environment also means restoring our community’s health.

We look forward to hearing back from you on this very important issue. Please contact Tracy Kuhns by phone at 504-289-7162  or by email at bayoukeeper@cox.net or Marylee Orr by phone at 225-588-5059 or by email at marylee@leanweb.org to discuss this matter further.

Sincerely,

Atchfalaya Basinkeeper               Advocates For Environmental Human Rights

Air Alliance Houston                  Alabama Coastal Heritage Trust   

Alabama Rivers Alliance              Alamos Riverkeeper                      

Alaska Community Action on Toxics      Alaska Trollers Association              

Altamaha Riverkeeper               Apalachicola Riverkeeper

Assateague COASTKEEPER                Asian Americans for Change

Association Of Family Fishermen

Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (BISCO)

Big Blackfoot Riverkeeper                Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper

Black Warrior Riverkeeper                Boat People SOS

Bogota Riverkeeper                    Buffalo Niagara RIVERKEEPER

Cahaba Riverkeeper                   Calhoun County Resource Watch

Cartagena Baykeeper                   Casco Baykeeper

Central Huallaga Riverkeeper            Center for Fair Housing.

Center For Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ),

Centro para la Sustentabilidad “Incalli Ixcahuicopa”, Universidad Autónoma
Metropolitana               

Children’s Environmental Protection Alliance NGO

Choctawhatchee Riverkeeper               Citizens Against Toxic Exposure

Coastal Women for Change               Cook Inletkeeper                   

Coosa Riverkeeper, Inc.                  Colorado Riverkeeper               

Columbia Riverkeeper              Commercial Fishermen of America

Community Development Task Force Inc

Countywide Family Development Center, Inc.

Delaware Riverkeeper Network               Disaster Accountability Project            

Earth Day Network                  Emerald Coastkeeper                     

Environmental Health Fund                     Environmental Health Strategy Center

Fannie Lou Hamer center for change      Federation Of Southern Cooperatives     

Fishing Partnership Health Plan          Flint Riverkeeper              

Florida Wildlife Federation             Fraser Riverkeeper              

French Broad Riverkeeper                 Fresh Fish Live Bait Co

Galveston Baykeeper                  Global Community Monitor

Global Green                     Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association

Greater Birmingham Ministries              Greenpeace US                

Guardians Of The Gulf             Gulf Change                     

Gulf Islands Conservancy

Gulf Organized Fishermen In Solidarity and Hope (GO FISH)

Gulf Restoration Network               Gunpowder Riverkeeper

Hackensack Riverkeeper, Inc.           Haw River Assembly                 

Haw Riverkeeper                        Housatonic River Initiative

Hudson Riverkeeper

Immaculate Heart Community Development Corp. Inc.

Indian Riverkeeper                         Indiana Toxics Action

Interfaith Power & Light

Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw

Karen Bowman & Associates             LA Oystermen Association                

Levees.Org                              London Canalkeeper                  

Loretto Earth Network              Louisana Bayoukeeper                             

Louisiana Bucket Brigade                        Louisiana Environmental Action Network

Louisiana Shrimp Association          Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper              

Lower Neuse RIVERKEEPER®            Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper           

Kentucky Environmental Foundation     Magdalena Baykeeper                

Mayday New Orleans

Mary Queen Of Viet Nam Community Development Corporation

Mercy Housing & Human Development

Milwaukee Riverkeeper                      Mississippi Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities

Mobile Baykeeper                                

MS Coalition For Vietnamese-American Fisherfolks And Families

Natural Resources Defense Council      Neuse RIVERKEEPER® Foundation

NOLA Emergency Response               North Gulfport Community Landtrust    

North Sound Baykeeper              Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance       

Ogeechee Riverkeeper           Ouachita Riverkeeper               

Puget Soundkeeper Alliance            Patuxent Riverkeeper                  

Quad Cities WATERKEEPER       Qiantang River Waterkeeper             

Raritan RIVERKEEPER           RFK Center For Justice And Human Rights

Sabine Riverkeeper               San Francisco Baykeeper Emeritus.

Satilla Riverkeeper               Savannah Riverkeeper

Shenandoah Riverkeeper            Sierra Club

Silent No More Ministries                     Silver Valley Community Resource Center

Silver Valley Waterkeeper                     SouthWings

Southern Mutual Help Association, Inc

Southern Shrimp Alliance                   Spokane Riverkeeper

Steps Coalition                       St. Johns Riverkeeper                  

Surfrider Foundation                      Tennessee RIVERKEEPER                    

Terrebonne Readiness & Assistance Coalition (TRAC)

Texas Injured Workers                 Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services

The Delaware Riverkeeper             The Praxis Project.

The Solution To Pollution Project

The Zion Travelers Cooperative Center, Inc,

Tijuana Waterkeeper                 Tri-Coastal Community Outreach, Inc

Treasure Coast Environmental Defense Fund

Turkey Creek Community Initiatives

United Commercial Fishermen of America

United Church of Christ (Justice & Witness Ministries) 

United Houma Nation                

United Louisiana Vietnamese American Fisherfolk

Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper          Upper Watauga Riverkeeper                    

Vaytka Riverkeeper                Waccamaw RIVERKEEPER®         

Waterkeeper Alliance                 Western North Carolina Allliance

West Virginia Headwaters Waterkeeper White Oak-New Riverkeeper.

Wings Of Care, Inc.                         Yadkin Riverkeeper, Inc.

 source: Letter to Administrator Jackson and Secretary Sebelius  | Save Our Gulf

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